by Diana Biller
A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age romantic comedy debut
It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time.
However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor Samuel Moore appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life—especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam. Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history—and her heart.
Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.
I don't know if I've read anything quite like The Widow of Rose House. It has everything I love from historical romances like the smart, handsome male protagonist, Same, and the down on her luck but fierce female protagonist, Alva. The only thing that could have made it better, and did, was the inclusion of background spookiness with tales of hauntings. Talk about the perfect book to read during Halloween time!
Biller's writing is atmospheric and flows so smoothly. It had me turning the pages, eager for more of the romance (this book is heavier on the romance than the scary bits). The backdrop of rumored hauntings adds to the feeling the story gives the reader. I truly enjoyed Alva's character - her wit and fierceness really did the story for me. I've found myself disliking stories where the female protagonist(s) are meek and/or always clinging to their counterpart (male or otherwise). Alva gave me none of those feelings and I love her (and Billings) for it!
Please pick this book up this month! It's the perfect reading for those who want a dose of spookiness in their background!